Daily Archive: 12/21/2013

Dec 21 2013

Three Things On The Internet

The team of All In with Chris Hayes puts out a daily request on Twitter asking their followers to send them the things they find most interesting on the internet. These are their finds for December 16, 2013

Dec 21 2013

Random Japan

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Pizza Hut Japan’s latest promotion gives “golden crust pizza” new meaning

   Rachel Tackett

Though it may not be a traditional holiday dish, pizza is often the perfect entrée for the holiday season. After all, between Christmas and New Years, there’s bound to be an opportunity to throw a party for your friends, and for those who’d rather not slave away in the kitchen for a day, pizza is often the best way to provide food to a group.

Well now Pizza Hut Japan has given us a new reason to party: in its latest promotion, the company is giving away actual gold necklaces worth nearly a thousand dollars each.

That’s right, early next year Pizza Hut will be giving away eight gold necklaces with pendants shaped like pizza slices. Now, while that may not sound like much, each necklace has an estimated value of 80,000 yen (US$770)!

Dec 21 2013

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness NewsWelcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

One Mushroom Ragoût, Five Meals

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I have never been a gravy fan, but I am a fan of what I call “Mushroom Ragoût Gravy,” which is not a gravy at all but a mushroom ragoût, or stew. I always make too much. I double the recipe if we are going to be a dozen people, which we usually are during holiday gatherings, even though I know that nobody will have enough room on their plates for more than a spoonful. [..]

The recipe makes quite a lot of ragoût, but you won’t mind having it around. It keeps for three or four days in the refrigerator and freezes well, and the leftovers can be used to make omelets, strudels and more.

Martha Rose Shulman

Mushroom Ragoût

This versatile dish can be used as the base for a number of other recipes or enjoyed on its own.

Mushroom Ragoût Omelet

A simple omelet with a delicious filling.

Mushroom Tart

Once the ragoût is made, this tart can be assembled quickly.

Mushroom and Wild Rice Strudel

Wild rice adds great texture to the “meaty” mushroom filling.

Quesadilla With Mushroom Ragoût and Chipotles

Mushroom ragoût forms the basis for delicious quesadillas that can be assembled in no time.

Dec 21 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial Board: Mr. Obama’s Disappointing Response

By the time President Obama gave his news conference on Friday, there was really only one course to take on surveillance policy from an ethical, moral, constitutional and even political point of view. And that was to embrace the recommendations of his handpicked panel on government spying – and bills pending in Congress – to end the obvious excesses. He could have started by suspending the constitutionally questionable (and evidently pointless) collection of data on every phone call and email that Americans make.

He did not do any of that. [..]

In other words, he never intended to make the changes that his panel, many lawmakers and others, including this page, have advocated to correct the flaws in the government’s surveillance policy had they not been revealed by Edward Snowden’s leaks.

And that is why any actions that Mr. Obama may announce next month would certainly not be adequate. Congress has to rewrite the relevant passage in the Patriot Act that George W. Bush and then Mr. Obama claimed – in secret – as the justification for the data vacuuming.

Charles M. Blow: ‘Duck Dynasty’ and Quackery

I must admit that I’m not a watcher of “Duck Dynasty,” but I’m very much aware of it. I, too, am from Louisiana, and the family on the show lives outside the town of Monroe, which is a little over 50 miles from my hometown. We’re all from the sticks.

So, when I became aware of the homophobic and racially insensitive comments that the patriarch on the show, Phil Robertson, made this week in an interview in GQ magazine, I thought: I know that mind-set.

Robertson’s interview reads as a commentary almost without malice, imbued with a matter-of-fact, this-is-just-the-way-I-see-it kind of Southern folksiness. To me, that is part of the problem. You don’t have to operate with a malicious spirit to do tremendous harm. Insensitivity and ignorance are sufficient. In fact, intolerance that is disarming is the most dangerous kind. It can masquerade as morality.

Bernd Heinrich: Revitalizing Our Forests

THIS Christmas season, I am roasting chestnuts by the fire. American chestnuts, to be exact. These nuts, once widespread, were almost wiped out by a fungal blight. For a century, most of the chestnuts we eat, like the sweet Castanea sativa variety, have been imported from Europe and Asia.

And yet, I have been enjoying American chestnuts for several years now, harvested from some trees that are now part of my forest of 600 acres in western Maine. [..]

My trees seem to have some blight resistance, which could mean they were selected for those traits; some of the old trees did have the ability to avoid the blight.

Since the 1980s, researchers have worked to select chestnuts for resistance to the blight, slowly and methodically crossing and back crossing, testing and measuring the trees’ response to exposure. That’s traditional tree breeding.

But meanwhile, researchers at SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry have been trying to create a better chestnut tree by inserting into it a gene derived from wheat, one that would enhance the tree’s resistance to the chestnut fungal blight. [..]

How will those trees evolve over time with their altered genome? Will they crowd out the remaining natural chestnuts? The consequences of genetic engineering can be unpredictable – genes behave and are expressed in complex ways.

Joe Conason: Who Is Really Waging War on Christmas? Look in the Mirror, Scrooges

Spreading holiday cheer, a Western tradition for hundreds of years, no longer engages our so-called conservatives as the end of the year approaches. In fact, the innocent phrase “happy holidays” only infuriates them. The new Yuletide ritual exciting the right is the “War on Christmas”-an annual opportunity to spread religious discord and community conflict, brought to us by those wonderful folks at Fox News.

Once started, wars tend to escalate and intensify-and the War on Christmas is no exception. The same right-wing Christian ideologues enraged by any multicultural or ecumenical celebration of the season-the people trying to transform “Merry Christmas” from a kind greeting into a mantra of hate-are now merrily inflicting additional misery on the nation’s downtrodden.

Just in time for the birthday of baby Jesus, they are cutting food stamps and unemployment benefits. And they insist with breezy heartlessness that it’s all for the benefit of the poor.

Eugene Robinson: Making the Right Call on NSA

In plain language, the panel lays out just what the NSA has been doing: obtaining secret court orders compelling phone service providers to “turn over to the government on an ongoing basis call records for every telephone call made in, to, or from the United States through their respective systems.”

That is a jaw-dropping sentence. No less stunning, however, is the panel’s assessment of the program’s worth as a tool to fight terrorism: from all available evidence, zero. [..]

Unless we want to accept an Orwellian future in which privacy is a distant memory-and I don’t-we need to limit the NSA’s authority to surveillance of legitimate foreign targets.

A presidential order isn’t enough, because future presidents could change it. Congress needs to pass a law telling the agency, in no uncertain terms, what it must never do.

David Sirota: Edward Snowden Is the Whistle-Blower of the Year

For months, a debate over Edward Snowden’s status has raged. In the back and forth, one question about this icon who disclosed NSA abuses has dominated: Is he or is he not a whistle-blower with all the attendant protections that should come with such a designation?

As of this week’s federal court ruling saying the NSA’s data collection programs are probably unconstitutional, that debate is finally over. After all, if the most basic definition of a government whistleblower is one who uncovers illegal or unconstitutional acts, then the ruling proves Snowden is the dictionary-definition of a whistleblower. [..]

He certainly does not deserve the ire directed at him. At the very minimum, he does not deserve to have House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers publicly offer to help extrajudicially execute him with a drone strike (yes, that really happened).

What he really deserves, though, is a nation’s thanks for exposing-and hopefully halting-the violations of civil liberties happening in our midst.

Dec 21 2013

On This Day In History December 21

December 21 is the 355th day of the year (356th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 10 days remaining until the end of the year. This is a frequent day for the winter solstice to occur in the northern hemisphere and summer solstice to occur in the southern hemisphere.

On this day in 1968, Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, Jr., and William Anders aboard.

Apollo 8 was the first human spaceflight to leave Earth orbit; the first to be captured by and escape from the gravitational field of another celestial body; and the first crewed voyage to return to planet Earth from another celestial body-Earth’s Moon. The three-man American crew of mission Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders became the first humans to directly see the far side of the Moon, as well as the first humans to see planet Earth from beyond low Earth orbit. The 1968 mission was accomplished with the first manned launch of a Saturn V rocket. Apollo 8 was the second manned mission of the Apollo program and the first manned launch from the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

Originally planned as a second Lunar Module/Command Module test in an elliptical medium Earth orbit in early 1969, the mission profile was changed in August 1968 to a more ambitious Command Module-only lunar orbital flight to be flown in December, because the Lunar Module was not ready to make its first flight then. This meant Borman’s crew was scheduled to fly two to three months sooner than originally planned, leaving them a shorter time for training and preparation, thus placing more demands than usual on their time and discipline.

After launching on December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 took three days to travel to the Moon. It orbited ten times over the course of 20 hours, during which the crew made a Christmas Eve television broadcast in which they read the first 10 verses from the Book of Genesis. At the time, the broadcast was the most watched TV program ever. Apollo 8’s successful mission paved the way for Apollo 11 to fulfill U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the Moon before the end of the decade.

Dec 21 2013

A Midwinter Nights Dream